January 26 is not a day of celebration for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is a reminder of the lasting impacts of colonisation and dispossession and for many, a day of grief and mourning.
Uniting Vic.Tas stands in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in recognising the injustices, dispossession and trauma that began 234 years ago on 26 January 1788. We recognise the continued impacts of colonisation through dispossession of land and disconnection from family, culture, and Country. These include removal of children and over-representation of Aboriginal people in our prisons.
We deeply regret the legacy of past policies and practices that continue to detrimentally impact the identity, dignity, and spirit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Australians of today are not directly responsible for what happened in the past but it is a part of our shared history, and as Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians we are responsible for what happens in the future.
On January 26, we stand alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. We recognise and celebrate the strength, resilience and resistance of our First Nations People and the path to self-determination. We recognise and respect their sacred connection to the land for over sixty millennia and we pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging, on whose land we live and work every day.
As the community services organisation of the Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania we affirm that the Uniting Church in Australia that has long called for a change in the date of our National Day, and has urged the Federal Government to promote community discussion directed towards finding a date for Australia Day that has greater power to unite than 26 January.
As a nation, we must find a date for a National Day which unites all Australians. A day we can celebrate this country as home to the oldest continuing culture on earth.